Stacked field tips off at Sugar Bowl prep classic

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has a rich history with the sport of basketball, as well as football. Dating back as far as 1936, the Sugar Bowl has sponsored basketball events in conjunction with the annual football classic. In addition, the Bowl has been a sponsor for multiple local events in the sport. In 2008, the Sugar Bowl Committee partnered with other local organizations to put together a successful bid to host the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four, officially set to be hosted by Tulane University.

The second annual National Prep Classic basketball tournament, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, will feature four New Orleans area boys’ high school programs battling four teams from around the country. The event tips off on Thursday, Jan. 19 with four games at the Alario Center in Westwego.

Thursday’s games begin at 4:30 p.m. with Salmen vs. Frederick Douglass High School (Oklahoma City, Okla.). The second game is at 6 p.m. with John Curtis vs. Boys and Girls High School (Brooklyn, N.Y.). Game three tips at 7:30 p.m. with Riverside vs. Wenonah High School (Birmingham, Ala.) and the nightcap starts at 9 p.m. with O.P. Walker vs. St. John Bosco High School (Bellflower, Calif.).

Second-round action will take place on Friday with four games beginning at 4:30 p.m., also at the Alario Center. The championship game is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m.

Salmen High School is coming off a trip to the state semifinals last year has a 16-3 record and is led by a tremendous backcourt highlighted by senior guard Khari Price. The Spartans will have their work cut out for them in Thursday’s opening round as they face Douglass High School, the two-time defending Oklahoma state champions. The Mighty Trojans are led by high-scoring guard Stephen Clark, who has four 40-point games this year, including a 65-point eruption in Shreveport.

Thursday’s second game features John Curtis, the dominant football program in the region which is flexing its hardwood muscles with a 17-0 record behind star guard Malik Morgan, who is an LSU commitment. The Patriots will take on one of New York’s finest as Boys and Girls High School and big man Leroy “Truck” Fludd visit the Big Easy. The Kangaroos have reached the playoffs in all 17 of their seasons under head coach Ruth Lovelace, the only female coach to lead a New York City boys team to a championship.

Riverside Academy is led by last year’s National Prep Classic Most Valuable Player, Ricardo Gathers, who is considering a long list of Division I scholarship offers. Riverside coach Tim Byrd has captured nine state titles in the last 10 years and has coached the Rebels in 12 out-of-state games already this season. His squad will be glad to be close to home as they open tourney action against Wenonah High School, the defending Class 5A state champs from Alabama. The Dragons have eight starters returning from last year’s title team, including three juniors with D-1 offers on the table.

Thursday’s finale will feature O.P. Walker against St. John Bosco. O.P. Walker, as the only West Bank-based school in the event is the closest thing to a home team for the Prep Classic. Led by standout guard Rashad Ray, the Chargers have played a brutal schedule, which should prepare them for the grueling competition at the Alario Center. That competition will be stiff from the start as St. John Bosco is 12-2 under first-year head coach Derrick Taylor, who built an impressive resume at Taft High school, winning 10 league championships in 11 years. The Braves are led by blue-chip recruit Isaac Hamilton, considered one of the top prep players in the country.

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